RapChat.co - Snap Chat for Battle Rap #SWChi

April 21, 2013

I pitched three ideas at Startup Weekend because I didn’t have enough time for five. It was, of course, a joke, but before the organizers cut me off one of the ideas seemed to take off in the imaginations of the audience members. Attendee after attendee asked, “Hey, are you the Snapchat for Battle Rap guy?”

Yes. I was now, anyway. One of the pitches I made was an app that would make it easy to start a rap battle with your friends. I made a mental note to update my LinkedIn profile so I would be able to relive those fifteen seconds of fame for my entire professional career.

But it turned out that people were actually interested in building Snapchat for Battle Rap and a team more or less organized itself. A motley crew (Abdul, Akram, Dexter, James, Kevin, Wes, and Scott), any of whom would have had other teams fighting over them, rallied around this shining beacon of technological empowerment: That every human on Earth should be able to diss someone through their iPhone.

We quickly discovered that we had complementary skills. We had an iOS developer in my cousin Dexter Teng, and Wes Dearborn had experience designing and developing mobile views. Meanwhile James Stubblefield and I are Rails developers. We had a good chance at being able to build the mobile app and the backend.

Kevin Lee, a Starter League UX student, spearheaded a survey that was crucial to validating our strategy and netted nearly 100 responses in 24 hours. Scott Luptowski, of Nicholas Cage Roulette fame, took on the task of making the landing page look beautiful - which it does: rapchat.co - and researched the competition and did customer interviews. Abdul Umer, a marketing pro, worked through the Lean Canvas framework to nail down the monetization strategies. Akram Abedelal, the founder of a children’s education company, helped with both monetization and research.

From a technology perspective, we were leaning heavily on our iOS developer, Dexter. Even with a few hurdles, James and I were able to get the majority of the web backend up and running, but we were helpless with regards to mobile development. If we couldn’t upload raps from users’ cellphones, we didn’t have a product. After a long night and heroic effort after most of the rest of us had left, Dexter posted this at 6am on Sunday:

My new sounds: Posting a rap battle through RapChats at 1871 on #SoundCloud

(Link: https://twitter.com/dexter_teng/status/325927523366088705)
- @dexter_teng

With a last minute assist from our longtime mentor and frequent savior, Don Bora, Dexter was able to get SoundCloud integrated in the nick of time. He is taking a well-deserved nap as I write this.

Meanwhile, we are beginning to gear up for our presentation at the end of the day today. How will we do? What will the outcome be?

But regardless, there’s a twist that we can’t wait to tell you about. So tune in to RapChat to find out!

-The RapChat Team